In this special short episode, the whole plot summary of Siegebreakers, a pro-Palestine thriller novel that imagines how the Palestinians will eventually break the siege on Gaza, is SPOILED. If you don’t like spoilers, you should skip this one. If you’re the type who needs to know what happens in a book or movie before committing yourself to watching / reading, well this 12 minutes will help you decide. Also, there’s a book discussion on September 18th that will be hosted by the Marxist Education Project (discussion continues on the 23rd as well). So there’s the announcement, discount codes for the book, and the full spoiler in this short episode. Back to regular programming in the next.
Take a tour with us of a few of the African kingdoms that tried to resist the slave trade – before, in some cases, giving in. King Affonse of Kongo, Queen Nzinga of Matamba, Agaja of Dahomey (and others from that kingdom), the Asante in the west, and then east we have Abyssinia, the Bachwezi, and in the south we talk about Shaka Zulu and about the Merina kingdom in Madagascar. A short debate about the European and Arab slave trades, and then some notes about nutrition in Africa before colonialism (spoiler: Africans ate much better before the Europeans colonized them, which involved stealing their food).
I’m joined by Davarian Baldwin, who is Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies at Trinity College, to talk about his new book In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities are Plundering Our Cities. Davarian’s book helped a lot of ideas about the university and where it’s been headed click in my mind, and I think our discussion will be of interest to people who work at or around universities or are affected by these institutions in some way. Understanding the agendas at play and the divergence between ideals and reality is increasingly important in universities as it is elsewhere.
A new Civilizations series on the Scramble for Africa. We begin our series on this decisive event in world history with a multi-episode survey of pre-colonial Africa. In this episode we talk about the devastation wrought by the European slave trade and focus on Africa’s West Coast (then known as the Gold Coast) before the scramble. There’s also a bit of debating Afrocentrism (you can imagine who takes which side of the debate).
Journalist KJ Noh and retired SF Superior Court judge Julie Tang join me to talk about the Meng Wanzhou case, in which Canada has kidnapped a Chinese executive at US request in 2018. As we await judgement which may come in October or November after the September Federal Election, British Columbia judge Heather Holmes has pondered the nature of a fraud case with no harm and where the alleged fraud “victim” (in this case the British bank HSBC) had the facts that were allegedly withheld. I’ve covered this case for a while and understanding it requires knowledge of the law, of extradition, of US unilateral sanctions on Iran, the US tech war with China, Britain’s colonial history with China, and quite a bit else. We try to find you a way through it all in this episode (but you might want to go back and listen to the earlier series too). Having done the wrong thing for so long, is there any hope Canada would do the right thing now? Ultimately, we are advocating here to Free Meng Wanzhou!
Joe Emersberger and I discuss some questions about Afghanistan after the Taliban take over the country and the US leaves. Was this really a defeat or a controlled handover for the US? What is Pakistan’s role? China’s? What is with the mystique around the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, whose UK-trained son is now claiming to lead the #Resistance? And a few other questions.
I talk to Nora Loreto – podcaster, journalist, and author of Take Back the Fight: Organizing Feminism for the Digital Age and Spin Doctors: How Media and Politicians Misdiagnosed the COVID-19 Epidemic. We talk about Nora’s journalism on COVID-19, about anti-feminist backlashes of various kinds, about contemporary feminism and the continuing relevance of organizing in the movement, and more.
A year and a half ago I approached my high school history teacher with the idea of launching a podcast with a massively expanded version of the content of the “Modern Western Civilization” course he taught me in high school in the 1990s, to include the whole world and the people’s histories.
We’re just about to reach the 20th century so we thought we would debrief and go over some of what we’ve learned. We read things like EH Carr’s What is History?; Dave discusses the limitations of podcasting and of high school teaching; we talk about where the history we do fits into current debates about Critical Race Theory; and we set up for the next two series to come – the Scramble for Africa, and the Three World Wars (WWI, WWII, and the Cold War).
Joe and I answer some questions listeners sent in about our new book about Venezuela, Extraordinary Threat, from Monthly Review. Questions include: Was Venezuela “once-prosperous” before Chavez? Has Maduro been true to Chavez’s vision? What’s the COVID vaccination situation? Can we comment on Hong Kong? What is the internal social base of US imperialism in Venezuela? Can all the problems of Venezuela be placed at the feet of US imperialism? And more.
Another episode of Kung Fu Yoga with Carl Zha, where we talk about the Indian and Chinese angles on world events. With the US withdrawing from Afghanistan like thieves in the night, the greatest agent of chaos may be gone (or mostly gone, for now) and country’s neighbours (Iran, Russia, the Central Asian republics, Pakistan, India, and China) will be playing a bigger role in the future, and so, evidently, will the Taliban. We talk about the differences we see between the Taliban of today and the Taliban of 2001 in terms of the movement’s apparent support in rural areas and ability to win many of them over without fighting; in terms of the Taliban’s perhaps independence from Pakistan; and in terms of the Taliban’s diplomatic agenda in the region. With the US panic about China taking up where the US left off, we consider China’s relationship with Pakistan (eg., the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) and whether that has any insight to offer about what the China-Afghanistan relationship might look like in terms of priorities like infrastructure, the Belt & Road initiative, and China’s concerns with stability and terrorism on the border with Xinjiang. As well as India’s seeming irrelevance to the situation.